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“One of the biggest predictors of satisfaction is a feeling of fairness in relationships. It turns out that the more tasks couple share together, that they do jointly, the greater their feelings of equity, the more satisfied they are with their housework arrangements.”

Daniel Carlson, University of Utah associate professor, in a Council for Contemporary Families research brief.

Published on

apr 26, 2022

  • In an analysis of nationally representative surveys from the 1990s and early 2000s which gathered information on family life and time use, Carlson observed that couples who share at least three chores were more satisfied than couples who each took on specific chores without sharing.
  • The findings: “Those who were equally sharing all the tasks, 99% reported that their relationship was fair. Those who had 50/50 housework, but they didn’t share any tasks together? Only half of them thought their relationship was fair.”
  • An indicator for fairness and satisfaction is impacted by who does what chore. “I might get the three easy ones, the more fun ones, and you might get the three harder ones. So even though we’re kind of splitting it up on the surface, when it comes down to it, those tasks are not equivalent,” says Carlson.
  • Something To Consider: The data indicated that couples who shared responsibilities also had enhanced communication skills.
  • Why It Matters: Families are increasingly transitioning to dual-income households, though in dual-income households mothers average about 13.5 hours of housework per week while fathers average about 9.5 hours. "Women’s roles have changed so much and we are kind of trying to figure out what the incentive is for men to take up more of the labor at home," said Joanna Pepin, an assistant sociology professor at the University at Buffalo, NY, and who was not involved in the study. "This [study] is a really smart approach to thinking about why we might be stuck in getting to more equality in relationships.”

The Way Couples Split Chores Can Improve Relationships, According to a New Study (Time)

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